1. How did your school look this past week–any surprises or disappointments? Are you looking forward to anything regarding your school?
Brian (FSU): FSU continued with its unimpressive play in a blow-out loss to ND. I guess the Irish got their revenge against FSU for what they believe was a bad call on the football field this year (it was the correct call Irish, get over it). Anyway, ND destroyed FSU… and I would say was disappointed, but I saw it coming with how FSU has played all year. Yes, FSU looked good against UCF, but they are at best an NIT caliber team this year. This year has really been one big disappointment… and I am not looking forward to the regular beat downs the ACC season will bring. Although, I hope we can upset UF on December 30th.
John (UNC): It wasn’t surprising that North Carolina lost to Kentucky. After all, the Wildcats are the runaway number one team in the country. They’re big. They’re talented. And while both teams legitimately played well, Big Blue was simply more talented. Still, it’s disappointing. Why? Because this is definitely not where I expected North Carolina to be at this point in their schedule. With all of the preseason expectation- a top 5 ranking, key returnees, big name recruits, it was inevitable. The Tar Heels were back. They were going to return to the Final Four and put the past few years of the academic and athletic scandal behind them. And yet, here they are, a respectable, but not great, 7-3, with conference play on the horizon. Yes, it was nice to have wins over #18 Florida and #22 UCLA, but those teams aren’t ranked anymore. It’s time to prove something this Saturday against Ohio State. They’re #12 and not showing any signs of slowing down.
Mike (NC State): The Wofford loss is a bummer but may serve as a wake-up call for the Pack. What has me more concerned is the play of BeeJay Anya. He lost weight in the offseason and that did increase his stamina, but he looks a little out of sync to me, as if he is having a hard time adjusting to the lighter weight. His rebounding has gone up, though, so maybe it’s just me. And I am pleased that three players are scoring in double figures, but I wonder what will happen when State hits the meat of their ACC schedule.
Len K (Louisville): The Cards have shown improvement since the start of the season. They were out rebounded by Berry in their first exhibition but have strong on the boards since. They are further along defensively then what I thought they would be with so many freshman. My biggest surprise so far would be the play of freshman Chinanu Onuaku at C. Onuaku brother played for Syracuse & came into Louisville ready to play physically. He will need to learn how to stay out of foul trouble however. The biggest disappointment on the season has to be the Cards shooting. They have struggled with their 3 point shooting which has carried over into their free throw shooting as well. Freshman SF Shaqquan Aaron has 2 more games left on his 10 game suspension from the NCAA for improper housing benefits that he deceived while in high school. The Cards shooting has been improving and adding Aaron to the line up should help as well.
Anthony (Syracuse): Syracuse recruits for its zone defense–but it does not recruit for three-point shooting. This means that the team rises or falls in that department on Trevor Cooney. Syracuse’s 2003 team had three guys that could reliably hit three-pointers, this one has just one. This continues to be an achilles heel for Syracuse. I just do not see it improving. If Cooney gets hot in March, anything can happen in the Big Dance. But if he is cold throughout January and February, March may be irrelevant. It is not HIS fault that he is the only pure shooter. It is what it is.
2. What surprised you or disappointed you with the ACC?
Brian (FSU): I am surprised how well ND, Miami, and GT has looked. I am disappointed in Syracuse… thought they could be better. UNC is what I thought they were, kind of good but not elite. I had a feeling they were overrated. But ND, UM, and GT have really surprised me this year.
John (UNC): Once again, the conference underwhelmed on the small stage. It’s not that it’s entirely out of the realm of possibility that a talented team from a Power 5 conference like NC State could lose to a team like Wofford, but it SHOULD be unlikely. It happened this past Sunday. Yes, scoring seems to be down again this season, especially in the once fast-paced ACC, but the Wolfpack only put up an anemic 54 against the Terriers. That shouldn’t win any games. Mark Gottfried has an extremely talented group, but with a ranked West Virginia team coming up, they need to find some answers quickly.
Mike (NC State): I don’t think this qualifies as a surprise, but I was extremely disappointed by UNC’s loss to Kentucky. Yeah, I’m the NC State guy, and normally I would be hating on the Heels, but any time one of the ACC’s “marquee” programs (Duke, UNC, Syracuse) suffers a loss in one of these high-profile matchups the conferences reputation takes a hit. And none of us like that.
Len K (Louisville): The way North Carolina and Syracuse have struggled early in the season has been disappointing. They both came with highly rated recruiting classes so they both should improve over the course of the season. Miami has been by far the biggest surprise to me. The Canes are looking tough.
Anthony (Syracuse): Notre Dame and Miami continue to be surprises on the positive side. If you had Notre Dame atop the ACC standings in your projections… wow. Still, Duke, Virginia, and Louisville are more likely to be the best ACC team than the Fighting Irish.
3. Anything noteworthy outside of the ACC?
Brian (FSU): This will sound random, but Butler and Texas are noteworthy. For a few years Texas seemed to be on a slide. They used to be regulars to the Elite Eight, but have not made it past the second round in over 6 years… even missing the tournament two years ago. This year they seem to be pretty good again. I know some people thought Barnes had worn out his welcome, but maybe those people jumped the gun a bit. Butler is interesting because one would have thought when Stevens left they would regress as a program. But since he left they went to the tournament last year and are currently ranked. I wonder if they can continue to build that program with the new blood.
John (UNC): While losing Alex Poythress didn’t affect Kentucky’s fortunes against the Tar Heels, you have to think that at some point, he will be missed. After all, he was a key leader, an upperclassman who did far more than the stat box showed. There will be a night where the rest of the team is off, and Coach John Calipari will wish he had just one more big man. Fans of the ACC can only hope that is on December 27th against Louisville. In other news, the injury bug continues- the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks just found out that former Duke star Jabari Parker will miss the season with a torn ACL of his own.
Mike (NC State): Looks like the big one is the game Saturday between UNC-Ohio State. Wouldn’t hurt any for the league if State upset West Virginia, either.
Len K (Louisville): Kentucky has been strong this season, they should’ve saved their 40-0 talk for this season. With only UCLA & Louisville remaining on there regular season schedule is a possibility since they play in a joke of a basketball conference. The one thing everyone should STOP talking about is “platooning”. They aren’t playing equal minutes and they are not subbing 5 at a time. Calipari is the king of gimmicks and “platooning” is just the latest one.
Anthony (Syracuse): The AAC… did YOU expect Tulane to be 9-1 and UConn to be 4-4? Nope. How about Penn State 10-1 and Michigan 6-4?
WHAT DO YOU THINK? LET US KNOW…